Prince plays surprise gig

Amy Winehouse and Gnarls Barkley saluted during London show

Prince played a surprise gig in London tonight (May 10).

The singer, who was in town this week to launch a series of gigs at the O2 Arena later this summer, made the most of his trip, staging the show at KOKO.

Taking the stage at around 11.30pm, Prince performed a set that mixed classics, instrumentals, new tracks, covers and songs that showcased his band.

Kicking off initially with just his brass section performing a instrumental version of ’Gett Off’, the singer made his entrance wearing all black except for his white hat and white high heel shoes.

Though frustrating at times in his song selection – the set was driven by an rhythm and blues flavour that saw him experiment and just jam at times – Prince ensured the fans had something to shout about with hits including ’U Got The Look’, ’Kiss’, ’Cream’, ’Let’s Go Crazy’ and an impassioned version of ’Nothing Compares To U’ in his set.

“So many hits, so little time,” Prince told the crowd. “You want to hear ‘Diamonds And Pearls’? ‘Pop Life’? ‘Raspberry Beret’? Nahhh! You don’t understand, I’ve got so many hits I’d blow this place apart!”

Explaining why he staged a British show, which watched by a packed audience including Damian Hurst, David Furnish, The League Of Gentlemen, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles David Walliams, Pete Burns, Maxi Jazz and Abi Titmuss among others, Prince told the crowd: “People asked me why we’re here doing this in London. There’s nothing happening in America!”

He also surprised the crowd by including several covers.

This started with an instrumental version of ’Play That Funky Music’, which Prince led on guitar, before one of his backing vocalists took the lead on Gnarls Barkley’s ’Crazy’ and Amy Winehouse’s ’Love Is A Losing Game’.

Praising the British singer, who he as expressed a desire to work with, Prince declared: “Respect to Amy Winehouse, respect! What a voice!”

More instrumentals followed as Prince intermittantly left the stage, including a brass-led version of ’Sometimes It Snows In April’.

Prince then concluded the gig by giving a short speech from the stage which echoed his earlier comments about the UK.

“You’re doing it, it’s not me! You produce the energy,” he told the crowd. “I told my band it was happening in London, now they know.”